Sunday, September 23, 2012

Fisher Price Fun

Goodness me!  Haven't been posting much because I've been so anxious over Julian's birthday party this weekend. It was a modest success and Julian had a great time so I'm super happy.  Anyway, now that that's done with I can focus on other things.

I thought I'd write today about the Fisher-Price website and all the cool (and more importantly, FREE) features they have for parents.  I don't know about you, but I was definitely a Fisher-Price kid growing up--so naturally it's a brand I trust for Julian.

I started going on the website a few months ago to play some of the online games they have for babies when Juju first started mashing my laptop keys.  On a recent visit though, I found they have A LOT of really cool stuff for parents!

You can check out the site yourself to see all they have to offer, but I'm going to list my favorite sections here:

Online Games
Here you'll find a bunch of cool games for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.  I really like these because I do a lot of work on my computer and when I'm home alone with Julian he often wants to get on the computer and do things with me.  I haven't tried out the toddler or preschooler games yet, but the infant ones are perfect for babies who want to be just like Mommy and Daddy!  Watch out though, because if they hit certain commands on your keyboard they can shut out of the game and start messing with other things.  Try and make sure the babes are just playing with the main keys.

Julian's favorite games are the Hide and Seek games and any of the animal games--the noisier the better!

This is actually the page that got me excited about writing a post on this website because it's SO what this blog is about!  Here's a list of cool art projects and activities you can do with your kids at little or no cost (they even have a fishing activity like the one I wrote about!).  I'm so excited to try some of these out (and put my own spin on them too haha).  Any of these activities would be great for a boring weekend or rainy day. 

I tried to pick out a couple favorites to list here, but honestly I love them all!

Birthday Party Ideas
I'm a little peeved I checked this out the day after I have Julian's birthday party (especially since they have a dinosaur theme and that's what I really wanted to do grrrr), but I will know better in the future. :P 

Anyway, they have lots of great tips and tricks for parents on holding a successful and fun birthday party.  They also have several party theme ideas that include food suggestions and decorating and activity ideas.  All the party ideas function on a reasonable budget and seem to be real low-stress which, given the anxiety I went trough over Juju's birthday party, is definitely an awesome thing!

Playtime Guide
This section focuses on the importance of play and how different activities help baby develop cognitive, social & emotional, and physical skills.  They even have sections devoted to baby's specific age, from 1 month to 5+ years.  In addition to great tips on different ways to play with your baby they have a section for parents that focuses on everything from pregnancy worries to potty training.  This is great for nervous first time parents!  There's a section dedicated solely to grandparents as well.  This is a really valuable resource if you're getting tired of playing peek-a-boo and want to try something fresh and new. 

There are also coloring pages, online videos, and of course plenty of info on fisher-price's toys and stuff.  So if you're bored and trying to think of something new to do with the little ones take a look!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Happy Birthday, Julian!

My son turned 1 yesterday, I really can't believe it!  He's growing up so fast!  He's on his feet now, moving around like a fast little drunk--haha!  I never knew babies could have such personalities, but he sure does.  He gets annoyed or sad when he is scolded, he laughs when he does daredevil acts like rolling off the bed or couch, he loves animals, he loves sharing his food, he especially loves sharing his food with animals.  Overall, he's a cool kid and I freaking adore him. <3

No one makes me happier than my Juju.  Happy Birthday, my sweet little baby!

Re-purpose Those Jars!

Here's another highlight of an article I did over on HubPages!

I love peanut butter and jelly.  That seems like a random fact, but stay with me for a moment.  I love peanut butter and jelly--so, I find myself with a lot of used jars!  If I was wasteful (like a certain hubby I know, ahem) I would just throw them away--but I can't do that.  Throwing away glass, honestly, breaks my heart--especially since some jelly jars are really pretty!

So, I could use them for the basic my spaghetti sauce, stick pens in them, use them as cups, put little odds and ends in them.  Essentially, just use them to store things other than peanut butter or jelly.  

But that wasn't good enough for me!  So I explored OTHER ways I could use jars--and came across some really fun projects:
- snowglobes
- mini gardens
- lanterns
- candles
- and more!!  Check it out!

My next mission is to find projects specifically relating to baby food jars since I have a lot of those laying around! D:

Strange & Different Ways to Pot Plants

So I'm a writer over on HubPages.  It's against the rules for me to publish things in two different places there (although I still kinda do anyway--just a little bit, the rule is really to stop plagiarism--but if I wrote it why is it so wrong? D:).  Anyway, this is something I wrote an article on that I think would be really cool for parents looking for something fun and cool to do.

In this article I highlight a few cool and different ways you can pot plants at home.
Some highlights would be:
- Planting in jars
- Using eggshells
- Using bottle caps
- Repurposing crocs 

There are a few others too and most would be really fun projects to do with kids, I'd say around 4 and up.  All of these ideas are are pretty basic too, so there are plenty of ways you can be creative and customize your projects!

Happy planting!

Flower Pot Pens

Source: Do It Yourself Gifts
Here's a really cute and cool project I came across when I went to my OB/GYN today--flower pot pens!  I never noticed, but on all the reception desks at my clinic there is a vase with fake flowers in it--these are actually PENS!  How pretty!  Little flower vases are definitely more attractive then a mug full of pens (and flower pens are probably a lot harder to swipe too haha).  My clinic is all about visual aesthetics so it's no surprise that they even try to make something as mundane as a pen to sign in look more beautiful. 

Anyway, after I left I wanted to do this on my own, so I looked up "flower vase pens" on Google and found this really helpful tutorial!  Check it out! It has picture instructions to make it easier, but the process is pretty simple.

All you need is pens, floral tape, fake flowers, and a vase or something to put them in (that's the part you can really get creative).

They do a real good job at explaining so here are some alternative/additional ideas that I had:
- Don't stop at just a few flowers, make a whole beautiful bouquet with feathers, swirly sticks, glitter twigs, or whatever florists call those things.
- Use your floral pens as a way to bring colour into a room or dress up your desk.  Use complimentary colours.  Have blue walls?  Use orange or yellow flowers.  Have white walls? Use bold colours!  Dark room?  Use bright colours!
- Try using the realistic silk flowers to make it look like you always have fresh flowers (some silk flowers look sooo real, I actually had a silk flower bouquet for my wedding so I could keep it forever <3)
- Add a fairy pen, butterfly, or some sort of bug to the mix for a secret surprise.
- Make decorating the pot, vase, or jar a fun project for the kids!
- Instead of flowers use fake leaves or leaves with berries to create a little potted pen bush.
- Or try other different types of flora to create various different types of pen plants.
- Instead of buying fake flowers make your own out of tissue paper or fabric.  (Don't know how, Google or YouTube "tissue paper flowers" or "fabric flowers,"  Maybe one day I'll do my own tutorial haha....)
- Change your pens with the seasons; roses in the summer, holly berries in the winter.
- If this is your personal desk, use other desk stuff such as a white out pen, a pencil, an eraser (a pencil taped backwards), a black pen, a blue pen, highlighters, permanent markers, color pencils, etc.

I'll add more ideas as I think of them!  I can't wait to try this out myself!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Sickle Cell Awareness Month

FOLLOW THE STRAY: Sickle-Cell Anemia Awareness Month

I just recently learned that Julian and my husband are carriers of the sickle-cell trait.  So, in honor of them and Sickle Cell Awareness Month I am doing my part to inform others of what Sickle Cell is (and learning about it myself as I go along).

Click here to read this post and other posts I've made for Sickle Cell Awareness Month

Monday, September 10, 2012

Make Your Own Monster

This is a project I did while I was a camp counselor at the Boys & Girls Club.  I had to get pre-teen boys excited about art--not very easy, especially since they were so attached to their PSPs and Nintendo DS's (even though they weren't even allowed at camp grrr).  So I made this project.

I made a simple body template for a monster.  Then the boys needed to cut out shapes from construction paper to glue on to the body and make their monster.  Some were reluctant at first, but by the end of the class the boys were happy to have made 2, even 3 monsters of their own, some even ventured away from the body template I created and designed their own.  I was so proud of them!  My only regret is not getting pictures of all the cool monsters they made!

This would be a fun activity to do at a Halloween or birthday party or to make cards or decorations.  I think children of all ages could really enjoy this, maybe even a creative teen or two if they're want to do something fun with their younger siblings.

Construction Paper Jack-O-Lantern

Here's a template I made for you to make your own construction paper Jack-o-Lanterns.

Cut out 1 Large Pumpkin piece, 2 Mediums pieces, 2 small ones, and 1 top.  Glue the medium pieces on either side of the back of the large piece, then the 1 small piece next to one medium and the other on the other side.  Glue the top at the top of the large pumpkin piece OR make long green winding vines and add lots of leaves.

To make a Jack-O-Lantern cut out triangle, square, and circle shapes for the eyes and nose and a crescent piece for the mouth.  I didn't make any template pieces for this part because there are so many different ways to do this part, it's really up to your imagination.

This is a great project for kids that may not be old enough to carve pumpkins or for parents who aren't so keen on the idea of chopping up pumpkins.

These make great cards, party invites, or decorations you can save or scrapbook later. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Registry Items I Could Not Have Survived Without

When it came to making a registry for Julian when I was pregnant I did not even know where to begin!  I went to Target to set up a registry and of course they give you a pamphlet with 101 "must-have" baby items.  Me, being a first time mom, asked for EVERYTHING--and when I received some of what was on my list my reaction was, "okay GREAT, now what the heck do I do with this thing?"  I'm sad to say quite a few of the gifts I thought were ESSENTIAL, didn't even get used!

So here's a list of just my favorite things that I think no registry should go without:


This is kind of obvious right?  But maybe, as a first time parent, I didn't realize HOW obvious this was.  If I could go back and do it over again I would just ask for diapers.  Think of it this way.  People have babies every day.  People's babies outgrow their clothes and toys every day.  When this happens people want to GET RID OF those toys and clothes as fast as they can.  Result?  Pregnant women are bombarded with free barely used clothes and toys all throughout their pregnancy.  Much of Julian's wardrobe for several months consisted mostly of hand-me-downs.  Many of the toys he still plays with are also secondhand.  Most of the stuff I was given was in "like new" condition when I received it.

Therefore, clothes and toys aren't exactly the most important things to ask for in a registry.  That is unless of course you're the kind of person that needs all new everything, but I'm not even going to go there.

BUT diapers cannot be handed down.  I mean, I received a few spare diapers that babies had outgrown before they could use them, and I gave away diapers Juju couldn't fit too, but those are hardly enough to cover a day let alone several months. 

I am SO GRATEFUL to the people who bought us diapers!  For the first three months we did not have to buy diapers because of the stock we had!  It was wonderful!

I think it's important to note, however, that certain sizes are more important than others.  Newborn sizes and 1s will be outgrown pretty quickly, 2s semi-quickly, 3s will last some time, and 4s will be used for quite some time.  So I would strongly suggest requesting larger packages of 3s and 4s than the smaller sizes--it'll really help out!

I didn't go the reusable diaper route, but next time around I might give it a shot.  I'll probably use disposables in the beginning since they grow so fast and once baby has reached a pretty standard size use reusables, size 3 or 4.  I'm thinking about even starting now with Julian since I'm potty training him anyway.

Nursing Pillow

I actually didn't think this was very important when I was making my registry.  Thankfully, a friend visiting us at the hospital was kind enough to pick one up for me after Julian was born.  I was very clumsy with the breastfeeding, in the beginning.  Julian was soooo small and I was so nervous.  My Boppy nursing pillow made the process so much easier and more comfortable.  I still use it to this day!  Terrance didn't use it, but I do know that some people bottle feed their babies with the Boppy too.  It's just so comfy. :)

A couple of extra covers for it is not such a bad idea either.


Julian has only very recently started sleeping in his crib.  He is the kind of baby that needs movement to sleep.  If it weren't for his swing I don't know what the heck we would have done.  Some nights that was the absolute only way he would sleep restfully.  Some people say it's a bad habit, but I'm in the parenting school of if it makes baby happy and it makes mommy happy, than what is the BFD?  Plus swings are one of the S's in The Happiest Baby on the Block so that's good enough for me.

It doesn't have to be a super expensive or luxurious swing either.  Those kinds of swings are definitely pretty cool, but ours just rocked back and forth and not much else.  That was perfectly fine!  Terrance and I were actually able to sleep at night thanks to our swing's simple ability to rock back and forth. 

Do NOT go without a swing!  Just don't do it to yourself!  This is definitely a MUST!

One recommendation though, try finding a swing that plugs in or ask for rechargeable batteries because you will go through them really fast!


I wouldn't say this one is as important as the swing but I did use both very frequently.  I had a little vibrating bouncer for Juju to sit in.  I'd bounce it with my foot while I was crocheting until he'd fall asleep.  Or sometimes he'd get really fussy and just want to be left alone so I'd sit him in it and let him stare at me, lol.  He didn't like being left alone in his crib and he could not be nosy in his bassinet, so his bouncer chair gave him the perfect seat to observe.  I think it was also comfortable for him because he always had a stuffy nose so being tilted instead of flat on his back made it easier to breath. 

Not an absolute must but it was definitely nice to use along with the swing so Juju wasn't spending 90% of his time swinging.


A good stroller is definitely a must!  I am so lucky to have the mom I do because she invested in a Peg Perego skate system stroller for us.  It has a bassinet, a booster seat (which Juju now uses), and a carseat.  It also has all of these great accessories too like a grocery basket, a winter cover, a cup holder, a plastic shield, the option to have the care seat and booster seat on at the same time for two babies, adjustable handles, and just a bunch of great stuff.  A stroller like this is EXPENSIVE but it is an investment.  It is a sturdy quality stroller that will last you a really long time.  Unless you want to also buy a lightweight stroller, this will be the only stroller you will ever have to buy.  The quality is so good that it will last you not only this baby, but the next.  In my opinion, it is worth every last penny put into it.  I absolutely love my stroller!

If not the Peg Perego, which I highly recommend, I'd say convertible or all-in-one strollers are the way to go.  Some are clunkier than others, but I think they are a lot more convenient! 

Baby Carrier

I'm totally an advocate for baby wearing!  Not only is it great for baby, it is so so nice to feel your little one next to you.  Ha, I spent nine months waiting for him to pop out only to tie him back on, huh?  Lol.  The Moby wrap is my favorite and I actually received a few different carriers, since I didn't know which one would be best.  I was able to move a lot more freely and securely with the Moby wrap than I was able with the others.  Overall, I just felt safer and more comfortable in it.

However, now that Julian is older I now use an Infantino so that he can face forward and move around a bit more without tumbling out.  He is a very active and curious baby.  He needs to see what's going on around him at all times, so a forward facing carrier is very nice.  It's fun going on walks with him too and pointing out things we see.

I'm afraid I may have to stop carrying him soon.  It's making me a bit sad.  He's getting to heavy and I am kind of weak. :(  If I can find a more supportive carrier, maybe one that goes on the back, it'll probably be better.  I will do an update if I find anything useful!


I breastfed near exclusively so bottles weren't especially important in our house.  I did like the Playtex drop-ins though.  You can push the air out of the bottle so there's less chance for excessive gassiness.  Not the most eco-friendly though.

Baby Bath

I was so so scared to bathe my baby.  I'm so serious.  I can't make this up.  I was terrified I was going to drown him or hurt him or he'd slip.  I was petrified.  I just wanted Terrance to wash him because I was so frightened.  It seems ridiculous now that I was so nervous.  I nice baby bath eased my worries.  I'd say any baby baby with a little seat type ledge or some way to position baby so s/he can't slide around is perfect.  It doesn't have to be super expensive or fancy.  You're probably not going to use it for more than a few months.  Once Julian started sitting up on his own I started taking showers with him and that's how he gets washed now; in the shower with me or his dad.  It's just more convenient that way.

Baby Kit
A kit with thermometer, bulb syringe, nail clipper, and medicine syringe is wonderful.  You could keep aquaphor or diaper rash cream,  orajel, a toothbrush, and a clean wash cloth in there as well.  Very very nice to have those things in one place.

Those are my absolute favorite things.  High chair can be added to the list of must-haves, colorful toys and teething toys too, a nice diaper bag is good--though now-a-days I just use whatever I have on hand.  Books are great and anything that makes noise or encourages investigation.  I've found that Juju is not very interested in stuffed toys just yet, but that could change in the future :)

I hope this helps anyone who is putting together a registry for the first time!   I REALLY hope this helps someone who is trying to find the perfect gift for a baby shower!  How happy will you be if several months from now you get a call from your friend or relative thanking you so much for your super amazing, useful gift? :)

Magnet Fishing

Here is a fun activity you can do with kids of varying ages (I'd say anywhere from babies to preteens, after that you might be pushing your luck).

Magnet Fishing!

This is actually an idea I got from watching Little Bill on Nick Jr. with Julian.  My husband and I are in the process of bringing in new furniture and rearranging our house so I haven't been able to try it out myself.  So, when I get around to doing this with Juju I'll be sure to share some pictures of our fun.  Or at least draw some pictures haha.

So here's what you'll need:

- A box or a fishbowl or some kind of container to act as a the fishing spot, it can be clear if you want to see the fish inside--or it can be opaque if you want it to be a surprise (for a surprise I'd say make sure there's lots of things to catch in there so you'll actually get something.

- Construction paper or colorful card stock for the fishes.

- Sticks and string for rods

- Magnets--you can take the magnets off of old magnets you don't use anymore or you can cut up those flat free magnets restaurants hand out with their menus on or you get a free events.  That's what I'll be using.  Make sure these magnets are strong enough to stick together though because sometimes they're kind of weak.  If all else fails you can buy magnet backs at office supply and craft stores.

- (optional) metal paperclips as an alternative to using magnets for either fish or hook (but not both)

- Glue

- Tape

- Scissors

- Markers, crayons, glitter, and whatever else you want to use for decorating.

- (optional) sand or marbles to put at bottom of tank

And here's what you do:


- Tie string around end of stick.

- Cut out a hook shape from two pieces of construction paper.
- Glue hook pieces on either side of the string so it is stuck in the middle
- Glue magnet piece on hook.


- Tape, glue, or tie on piece of magnet (maybe cut in the shape of a hook) at the end of the string.


- Tie a paperclip to the end of the string (do this only if you're using magnets for the fish--and if they're STRONG)

Fish tank

- (optional) Decorate the outside of your tank to look like an underwater or beach scene.
- (optional) Put sand or marbles in tank and maybe a figurine or two to decorate.

When everything is done, have fun fishing!


I added pigtails to my mermaid but you can cut out any hairstyle you like.

Here are some templates I made that you can print out and use to cut out your fish.  I also made one for a mermaid and octopus.  Feel free to use these templates for any under-the-sea projects!  You may alter and share these to your liking (please keep my link though or at least link back), but you may not sell these templates!  You can, however, sell whatever you make.  Fair? :)

- Cut out fish shapes (for some more fun add in an octopus or mermaid or two)
- Decorate
- Glue magnets on the mouths of the fish.


- If you're using really strong magnets you can glue the magnets on the inside of two pieces of paper so the magnets won't be seen.


- If you have a strong magnet hook clip paperclips on to the mouths of the fish either by just sliding them on or punching a whole and looping the paperclip on.

Please check out my hub for tips on how to make this game more fun.

The small things in life...

A big pot of water with some floaty toys can keep Julian occupied for quite sometime. AND it's heavy enough that he can't tip it over (like our dog's bowl =_=)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Tye Dye Cupcakes

For my birthday this year my sister and I had fun making rainbow cupcakes. Below are some pictures of what we made and tips & resources on how you can make your own!

We used this recipe as inspiration for our cupcakes.

First we made our dough then mixed in the food colouring.  The recipe we were following called for bold solid colours, but I really wanted pastel girly colours, so I used much less food colouring.
Red: 4 drops red 
Orange: 2 red 2 yellow
Yellow: 3 yellow 1 red
Green: 3 green
Blue/Green: 3 blue
Purple: This colour took several tries to make, I used a lot of red drops and a lot of blue drops, until I had a shade of purple I really liked.

If you're baking with kids, let them mix the colours to see how colours are made. :)
I had a blast mixing, so I know kids will enjoy it too.
We realized too late the recipe we were following was for MINI cupcakes so we didn't have enough to make perfect rainbow cupcakes.  So instead we mixed a bunch of random layers by pouring a layer, letting it sit, then carefully pouring another.
The colours of the cupcakes looked so cool once they were baked!
We added homemade frosting, sprinkles, and enjoyed.  Yum!

The outside of the cupcakes looked like rainbow layers, but the insides were tye dye!

This one was really fun to make.  My sister had the purple dough, I had the pink and at the same time we poured it in the pan so half would be pink and half would be purple.  It turned out great!

Anne Taintor Favorites

While Julian was pulling books off the shelves today I came across a book a bought a few years ago, "I'm becoming my mother" from the Anne Taintor Collection.  So, while Julia crawled off to see whatever destruction he could cause I took a break and flipped through the book.

I bought this book in Italy during a time when I was first developing an interest in 50's pinup art and fashion.  It was cute, funny, and on sale, so why not.  Now that I'm married with a baby I can relate to this sooo much more than before.  In fact, I had wanted to throw a pinup style party for my 24th this year, but wasn't able--but now I'm thinking I'll probably try again for my 25th and include some Ann Taintor products as favors and decoration.

I wanted to share some of the pieces so I checked out the website to see if they had them up.  I didn't find all the ones I really like, but here are a few of my favorites.

Juju loves food

There are exactly two things my son likes to do more than anything else; he likes to play--and he LOVES TO EAT!

From the moment food was introduced to him he was hooked.  I have heard stories about babies who are very picky and are completely disinterested in food--well Julian was definitely not one of them.  There are a few things he doesn't really like, such as bananas for example (strange since they're considered a starter food!)--but for the most part he'll eat anything you hand to him.  And he'll do it BY HIMSELF thankyouverymuch.  He does not like to be fed!

He is almost a year now and I'm thinking about weening him off the breast, but I want to make sure he is getting enough nutrients since he will no longer get the vitamins he normally does from my breastmilk.  Cow's milk just isn't the same.

So I've started making lists of foods he likes and ways I serve it to him.  I decided to share for any other new parents who are nervous about what to feed their babies.


- Yogurt

Sometimes I give Juju the kids yogurts or the yogurts that have to mix fruits, but I prefer mixing my own fruits (usually peaches or berries) in either plain yogurt or greek yogurt.  Juju really enjoys it, but if there isn't enough fruit to mask the taste of the yogurt he spits it out.
I haven't tried this, since Julian doesn't like bananas, but I have also heard that some kids like to eat bananas with sour cream or yogurt on top.  Yogurt is a lot healthier than sour cream, so that's the option I'd go for.

- Whole Fat Cow's Milk

Juju got the go ahead to drink milk from his doctor, so now he drinks it in his cups or with his Cheerios.

- Cheese

I don't give Juju a lot of this because it is hard to digest, but it still has benefits.  I will give him little blocks of cheese to chew on or offer him small slices on bread.


- Beef

I mostly serve beef to Julian in pasta sauce with plenty of vegetables.  I will also give him little bits of hamburger when I'm eating them.  Ground beef, I find, is the easiest for Juju to eat on his own since it isn't too difficult to chew.  I haven't really tried many other ways of serving it to him, yet.

- Chicken

I prefer feeding Juju bits chicken off the bone or cutlets.  I take off the skin and will sometimes mix it with rice (Juju likes both white and brown rice).  I'm trying to avoid chicken nuggets and patties just because I'm not a big fan of how they're processed (although hot dogs are processed similarly and I can't help but enjoy them anyway DX).  I just feel, it's bad enough that we have to worry about what types of antibiotics and chemicals our meat was processed with, I don't want to deal with ground up meat that may or may not have non-edible chicken parts in it.  I try to avoid giving him chicken with too much sauce or seasoning.  Juju enjoys the natural taste of the chicken just fine.



- Cheerios

Juju loves Cheerios.  I love Cheerios.  Who doesn't love Cheerios?  I think what we both enjoy the most about Cheeriosis the independence Juju has when he's eating them.  Julian never liked being fed.  From the very beginning he wanted to do it all by himself--usually resulting in a great big mess.  With Cheerios, Juju can happily feed himself.  When I'm having a bowl of cereal, I'll share spoonfuls with Juju too.

- Farina

Made this with water in the beginning, but now I use milk.  I'll feed it to Juju when it's warm, but when it cools it turns kind of solid and can be broken into chunks Juju can feed himself (I used to love eating cold farina when I was a kid lol).  When I was a kid my mom would also mix egg into the cooking farina for extra nutrients (it was like egg drop farina haha).  I haven't started doing this myself, but probably will so we can get some of the nice healthy benefits of the egg.

- Rice

I give Julian both brown and white rice.  White rice is easier for him to digest, but brown rice is full of rich nutrients.  I usually serve it to him with sauce, vegetables, chicken, or beans.  He likes it but gets frustrated by the fact that he can't handle it easily.

- Pasta

I give Juju spaghetti, but prefer serving him bow ties or shells or the swirly pastas or any other pastas that come in fun shapes.  That way he can still eat on his own and I don't have to worry so much about him choking.

- Bread

I try to avoid white bread if I can.  I'll make Juju jelly sandwiches on wheat bread and cut them into tiny pieces he can manage easily.  When we're at a restaurant we'll pass him a dinner roll while we wait for our food to come out--more to entertain him, than to actually eat.

Fruits & Vegetables

- Fruit & Veggie pouches

I think it's important to be mindful of the kinds of foods parents give babies.  It is easy to teach them bad habits by just giving them foods that are easy for them to eat on their own, like crackers or cookies.  That's why these pouches are so amazing.  Some come with just fruit mixes, like applesauce, but most have a mixture of both fruits and vegetables so kids get used to the taste of both.  Julian loves these and I always pack at least three different flavors when we're going somewhere.  I've, so far, found that the Target brand pouches are the cheapest for individuals--usually ranging between $0.70 - $2.  I've had luck at Walgreen's though where they sell them all for $2.  Rite Aid has been the worse, selling them for $4 each--no way!  Not for me!  Not when Walgreen's is just a block away where I live!  Costco, of course, has had the best deal--selling them in bulk, but my mom and I have only been able to find applesauce pouches there.  Perhaps I'll do some research and post an update later on the best places to get them, with the most variety, at the cheapest price.

- Strawberries

Okay, I know that these are on the list of allergy foods, but Juju loves them and no one in my family or in my husband's family is allergic so I'm hoping it's alright.  Juju eats whole strawberries now without much assistance (he doesn't even have teeth!), but I will mix them in yogurt or in smoothies for him.

- Smoothies

Speaking of smoothies!  These are awesome, even for picky eaters.  Add banana, strawberries, blueberries, or whatever fruits you like (I'd strongly suggest bananas though, for texture).  Add a little orange juice or apple juice or mix.  Add plain yogurt.  Blend it up and you have a delicious and healthy smoothie for both you and baby to enjoy.

- Oranges

I peel these and cut the slices in half.  This is the first fruit Julian was introduced to, so he has a pretty good handle on it now, but I'd watch out for the skin.  If you're nervous you can skin it.

- Grapes

Peeled and halved.  To be honest, sometimes I skip the peeling part because Julian eats them so well, but I ALWAYS halve them.

- Avocado

Julian likes to eat this plain, all mashed up or mixed with a little bit of yogurt.

- Sauce

I always pack my sauces with plenty of vegetables; carrots, potatoes, onions, mushrooms, beans, peppers, and tomatoes, usually.  This is more for my picky eater of a husband's sake than for Juju, but it's a great way to feed Julian vegetables. 

- Summer Squash

Julian and I both enjoy this sauteed in butter.  Mmmm.  I think I'll have some for lunch while they're still available.

- Melon

I give Juju chunks of watermelon, honeydew, and cantaloupe--sometimes.  He really only seems to like the watermelon though.

- Potatoes

I served these to him mashed.  He loves them.

- Earth's Beat Baby Food

I don't usually buy baby food, but the few times I have I have gotten Earth's Best.  Julian enjoys the taste (and so do I lol) and it's a pretty healthy brand so I like it.


- Who knows...

I'm always introducing new fruits to Juju.  He loves trying new things.

Eggs & Fish

I honestly haven't tried this at all yet with Julian.  I have to get on that!  If anyone has some good ideas for feeding babies Eggs & Fish, I'd love to hear them!

In general, whatever I'm eating Juju eats.  This can be a scary idea at first for new parents, but really it's fine!  I'm a firm believer in baby-led weaning and have had great experience with this method of feeding Julian.  For his age, he is extremely self sufficient when it comes to eating and very rarely gets flustered or frustrated when left to feed himself.  It is MESSY.  VERY MESSY.  Clothes have been ruined, my carpet is a disaster, and many many dishes have been made (not to mention my dog has been spoiled).  But it's worth it for Julian to gain that independence.

So I think, the most important thing to think about when feeding your baby is to reflect on what YOU eat.  You can try really hard to make sure your baby has all of the necessary foods, but if your eating habits do not reflect the healthy diet you are trying to establish with your children the whole system will fall apart. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

DIY Designer Toys

Mega Munny stands at 18in tall!
I am a huge fan of kidrobot.  In fact, my dream is to one day open a boutique where all I sell is kidrobot, tokidoki, Sanrio (Hello Kitty), and friendswithyou stuff alongside art supplies, art, and manga.  It would be the coolest store on the face of the Earth.  I would cosplay everyday and encourage my workers to do the same...just because we freaking can.

But that's beside the point.

One of the coolest things kidrobot has to offer is their Do It Yourself Toys.  Their Munnies and Dunnies are actually what introduced me to their brand in the first place.

The ever popular Dunny
So many artists have taken these blank canvas vinyl dolls and made beautiful and amazing artwork with them (that sells from anywhere between $40 to $400 or more).

The coolest part is that the models these artists use are completely accessible to you and me.

They come in various sizes and styles and varying prices.  You can decorate them using any medium you choose; markers, paint, pen...crayons.  Some artists even alter the model by adding to it with modeling or polymer clay.  

The possibilities with these figures are endless and when you're done you're left with a true work of art you can cherish always.

I think this is a great activity to do with kids because they can make their own, unique characters with their own personalities--instead of playing with Elmo or Dora like every other kid on the block (not that I have anything against Elmo or Dora, but you see what I'm saying)

I probably wouldn't recommend this project for younger kids or toddlers because the figures can be a bit pricey.  But, if you have a creative, artistic kid in need of an outlet--or a moody teen you're trying to reconnect with this might be a great project.  You can either work together (might be a good idea when working with the younger ones), or let your child go for it all on their own.  Or you could even make your own character to play with your kid's character.

There are a lot of cool characters you can choose from:

The 4in models (or Mini) cost $9.95
The 7in models cost $19.95
And the 18in models cost well over $200 (needless to say this option is probably not the best for a kid's project)

I think the 7in and mini models are well worth the price.  Just think of all the possibilities!  Instead of buying a bunch of mainstream toys, perhaps your child will want to start a collection of these guys.  And why not?  They foster creativity, individuality, art skills (which are extremely under appreciated in the US, in my opinion), and--just look at them!  They're awesome!

If you're interested, check out kidrobot's site to find out where you can buy them or to order online.

Man!  Now I'm itching to make my own!

Free Apps for Babies

I live in Upstate NY, but I am from NYC and commute frequently on the MetroNorth.  Usually I have Julian with me and sometimes I even bring my dog--that added to whatever luggage I have and perhaps even a stroller is kind of insane...If I wasn't the one doing it, I wouldn't believe it could be done.

Juju is pretty good on the train, especially if he gets a window seat, but like all babies--he gets fussy and he gets bored.  So I have a few cards up my sleeve when it comes to making sure our hour and a half ride goes smoothly as possible.  I have snacks, I'm ready with a nursing blanket, I have all his favorite toys within reach--and I have these apps.

These apps are the saviors of my commute.  If you have a baby or toddler and an iPhone or iPad I would strongly recommend you download these.  They could save your life...or, to be less dramatic, they could at least save your day.

Full on temper tantrums have been thwarted with these.  And they are FREE so really, what do you have to lose?

Julian's favorites are the ones by Fisher Price, they were launched to go along with their Laugh and Learn Apptivity Case

(I intended to buy but never did, still might...)

From the Let's Count Animals App

I've listed them from his top favorite to his least favorite:

- Animal Sounds
- Let's Count Animals
- Where's Puppy Nose?

Another app he enjoys is:

- Baby Piano (Lite)

There is a pay version of it, but so far I haven't had any reason to get it.  It isn't one of Juju's favorites anyway.  I think I like it more than he does.

When he was an infant there was another app I used:

- Relax Melodies

It's a great sound app that really helps sooth and put babies (and you) to sleep.

All of these apps are really great (as long as you don't mind your iPhone/iPad getting roughed up a bit or if you have a protective case).  They're perfect for shopping, commuting, car rides...times when your baby's up and you just want a few more minutes of sleep (oh yes)--and, rest assured, they are educational!

In addition to those great apps there are some for you too.

- Parenting Ages & Stages
I'm a big fan of Parenting magazine and their affiliates so I really enjoy this app.  You get access to a bunch of great articles and resources targeted to your child's age group.  Plus, there's a community and a neat feature where, if a product is recalled--they send a message to your phone.  Pretty cool!

- My Pregnancy Today
I lived on this app when I was pregnant. As a first time mom I had so many questions and was so nervous about everything. This app was so helpful!

- My Baby Today
After Juju was born I downloaded this app since the pregnancy app was so useful. There are lots of great tips, articles, videos, and even activities you can do geared to your baby's age. I love it!

I hope you find these Apps as wonderful as I did! I will be sure to add more as I find them. :)

Yo Gabba Gabba!

Yo Gabba Gabba! has to be one of the most insane kids' shows I have ever seen--and I LOVE it!

It first came out when I was in college and my initial thought was, "they let kids watch this?" (Okay my initial thought was actually "is that a dancing dildo?" but let's keep this G-rated, shall we haha)

For kicks I watched a few episodes and drove my mother and sister insane by singing some of the songs.  My favorite being, "there's a party in my tummy!"

Overall, I thought is was a really fun show--but for kids?  Not so much.  I just assumed they marked it was marked a children's program because it was so absurd it couldn't be labelled anything else.

Then Julian was born...and my opinions started to change.

There aren't very many shows that get Julian's attention (not that I'm complaining!  I'd rather he wasn't a couch potato), but when Yo Gabba Gabba! is on he is enthralled.  He stands up and dances a long with them (as much as a baby who can't walk yet can dance, anyway).  He loves music, so when they sing they have his full attention.  I think all the colors and the bizarre characters really just fascinate him.  He genuinely enjoys the program!

Now that I get to watch the show through parenting eyes, I understand it better than I did before.  It's meant to be fun, and hip, and different--but it still has all of the fundamental values shows like Sesame Street have, it's just packaged differently.  Way differently.

If you're new to Yo Gabba Gabba!  and are a little anxious about your kids watching it, I'd say--let them be!  The show encourages kids to get up and move, be themselves, try different things, and be respectful to others.  All of these are lessons I feel are REALLY important nowadays; kids need to exercise more, they are bogged down every day by images of what they SHOULD be--which makes them scared to do things different, and the amount of bullying that goes on today is sick and is sad.  If a cast of crazy characters can help today's kids actually BE kids--then I am completely on board!

And if you're a parent who HATES kids shows, I'd say give this one I try anyway--you might just enjoy it...if only because of how completely ridiculous the whole thing is.   Oh and the music, can be pretty freaking good when they have guest artists on.  Just saying.

Yo Gabba Gabba!  airs on Nick Jr.

Polymer Clay

One craft project that I have found to be successful, whether working with young children (SUPERVISED) or middle-aged adults is Sculpey clay, or polymer clay.

Polymer clay is a clay-like substance essentially made out of plastic.  It is very easy to use--and more importantly--very easy to clean!  You just take your polymer clay, mold it, perhaps paint it, bake it for just a few minutes and--voila!  You have a work of art!

I have seen all different types of projects done with polymer clay, from elaborate sculptures, to beautiful jewelry, to fun and quirky charms--some that even look like real desserts!  Yum!  

The point is it's great for any skill level and, mostly, any age.  And if your little one decides to take a little taste, don't get too worried--it's non-toxic (sadly I know this from experience of having to deal with this situation--very scary ordeal!)---although...try not to let that happen...(>_>)

I decided to share a post about polymer clay today because I'm kind of celebrating.  I'm a member at HubPages and today I earned "Hub of the Day" for a tutorial I did on how to make a cute and simple polymer mermaid charm.

If this is something that interests you, I'd suggest checking it out because it's really fun to do. I included step by step pictures to help you out, so if you are nervous--don't worry!  I intend to add more tutorials in the future, so look out for them!

I also wrote another Hub on some of my favorite polymer clay tutorials. 

 Anyway, more on polymer clay!

There are actual very many different types of polymer clay and several different brands.  One of the most popular brands I've seen in America is Sculpey and Sculpey itself comes in lots of different types.

For my mermaid charms I used Sculpey III.  This is the type I would recommend using if you intend to do this just for fun or with children.  It is soft, which makes it easier for children to manipulate (some polymer clays are SO hard you have to stick them in a blender to soften them up to use!).  Of course, being so soft is a bit of a drawback as well--it makes it a lot harder to do more elaborate, detailed work.  When dealing with kids though, this doesn't really matter all that much.

I would strongly suggest using Sculpey III if you are new to sculpting or polymer clay and then try some of the other types, like Sculpey or Fimo, once you get a feel for it.

One other thing I really like about Sculpey III was all the great colors it comes in.  For my mermaids I used Sculpey III Brights.  BUT blending polymer clay is a lot like blending paint--you just take a little of this and a little of that and mix it up.  This could be an interesting way to teach kids about colors---and a lot less messy than using paints!

Not only does it make a great art project, but kids can use it as a science experiment as well by investigating what makes it work.  I did this myself when I was first introduced to it and it's REALLY interesting!

So if you're looking for something new to do, try it out!  There are so many things you can make it's amazing!  Check out my Pinterest board on Polymer Clay for some inspiration on the types of projects you can do!


Welcome to my new blog space!  Here you'll find reviews on my favorite kids toys, games, TV shows, and crafts.  I will also be sharing my favorite projects and activities to do with kids. 

Stay tuned!  And I hope you enjoy!